The Indiana Pacers fly under the radar every year. When Paul George was traded in 2017, it seemed like it was time to embrace a full rebuild. They rebuilt on the fly instead, while doing an excellent job of developing young talent. By bringing in value free agents and maximizing their skills, they managed to win 48 games two years in a row. Recruiting well again this off-season, they are set for one of their best season’s in recent memory.
Free Agent signings
Using every dollar wisely, they made a series of excellent moves this summer. Malcolm Brogdon was one of the prized free agents, and is now a centerpiece in Indiana. Signed to a four year $85 million contract, Brogdon is one of the best shooters in the league. Last season he became one of only ten players in NBA history to shoot 50% from the field, 40% from three and 90% from the line.
Not only is Brogdon a great shooter, his size and length make him a great defender also. His 6’10 wingspan means he is an excellent rebounder at his position, while he defends opposing guards well without fouling. Brogdon fits well next to Oladipo with his combination of size and shooting ability. Already possessing the leagues best defense last season, he can help on the perimeter contesting three’s or stop teams in transition.
TJ Warren was also brought in to bolster the wing stocks. Surprisingly they only had to give up $1 million cash to get him from Phoenix. Averaging 18 and 19 points a game the last two years, Warren showed massive improvement shooting the three. His shot selection should also be noted though. While playing the four last season he took almost a third of his shots from three point land, rather than dining out in the mid range. Still only 25, Warren stands at a stout 6’8 and can defend out to the perimeter. Though not an excellent man defender, he closes out well to shooters and jumps passing lanes for steals and deflections. He is also on a very reasonable contract of around $11 million a year.
After four years in Charlotte, wing Jeremy Lamb was also signed. Lamb was signed to a cheap three year $31 million deal. He has a shifty game, using his length to finish over people with an array of post moves and floaters. An excellent proponent of the mid-range, he has increased his volume from three point land. He is most proficient from the corners, where he shoots 53%. The best defender of the three new signings, Lamb can defend positions one through three. He is a great rebounder and rarely turns the ball over. After a career year in Charlotte, he could be the perfect sixth man in Indiana.
Defense has been a hallmark of the Pacers roster the last two years. With the two way play of Myles Turner and franchise star Oladipo, they had the league’s best defense last year. By adding three efficient scorers who can also defend, they have raised this rosters ceiling. Forcing turnovers was a key part of their league best defense, by adding switchable defenders like Brogdon and Lamb they can be versatile on both ends of the floor. Getting to the line and shooting the three was a problem for this team last year. Brogdon and Warren should plug this hole while the return of Oladipo will obviously be a big help. Though they will miss Thad Young and Bojan Bogdanovic, they have replaced them with young two way options.
In an Eastern Conference where the Toronto Raptors and Boston Celtics lost their best players, the Pacers will bring theirs back into the fold around Christmas. Though the Brooklyn Nets will be strong when Kevin Durant returns, they have a top heavy roster reliant on two stars. Building organically before, Pacers management see this year as the time to strike. Outside of the Philadelphia 76ers, the Pacers are the team to beat in the East. With depth and a young roster this team should be aiming for 50 wins and the conference finals.